I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Binary/System by Eric BrownBinary/System by Eric Brown
Published by Solaris on August 8th 2017
Pages: 400
Format: eARC, eBook
Genres: Science Fiction
Source: NetGalley
Buy on Amazon

A devastating starship crash. An alien world. An incredible adventure.

After surviving a catastrophic starship blow-out, Delia Kemp finds herself stranded on the inhospitable, ice-bound world of Valinda, populated by the Skelt, a race of hostile aliens who will stop at nothing to obtain Delia’s scientific knowledge. Escaping from the Skelt – assisted by a friendly chimpanzee-like alien and a giant spider-crab – she travels south through a phantasmagorical landscape as the long winter comes to an end and the short, blistering summer approaches. Pursued by the Skelt, she and her companions make a death-defying dash across the planet’s inimical equator to meet up with fellow survivors from the starship, and a final journey to the valley of Mahkanda – where salvation just might be awaiting.

Binary/System by Eric Brown Review

Binary/System is a bit of a simple story, and yet it tells a tale that would frighten each and every human. What if you were traveling to the far end of space and were the only survivor of an explosion, sent 10,000 light years away from your home planetary system? It’s bad enough to realize you have to survive somehow on your own, not to mention you’ll never go home and see your family and friends again. Even worse, what if your escape pod crash landed on a hostile planet?

Delia has lost everything. She was a doctor on board The Amsterdam, with no real technical or survival skills, and now she’s the prisoner of the Skelt, a hostile alien race hell bent on taking over the galaxy. Her only friend is her implant, Imp, an AI physically implanted into her brain. Thanks to a sympathetic Fahran slave, she’s able to escape with him and thus begins her perilous journey for survival. If she’s able to live with Mahn and his people at the end of their escapade, even better. She’s long given up hope that there are any other survivors.

I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy this book at first, because the author used the word “inimical” far more times than anyone would ever use as a substitute for the word “hostile.” It came across as though the author used the MS Word thesaurus for hostile and fell in love with this synonym. Thankfully he stopped its overuse after the first few chapters. The rest of the book reads as though it was written by a completely different person, leading me to believe he wrote the beginning chapters after writing the rest. Until Delia was captured, the read was rather rough, like the author wasn’t sure how to get her to that point.

The ending felt a bit rushed as well, almost as if the author was ready to wrap it up and be done with it.

However, everything in between was a riveting sci-fi ride. I had a hard time putting the book down, and I grew to love every character, even Var, the spider-crab Vo. I hate spiders with a passion. I’m not sure I would have saved her from being eaten alive as Delia did. That’s how much I hate them, and I still loved her.

It seems that there will be a sequel from the ending, but where Brown will take Delia and her friends is beyond me if there will be sequential books. That said, if he does continue this story, I’ll be eager to read them. Overall, I’m typically not a fan of science fiction, but I’m ready to read more of Eric Brown’s books, regardless whether he continues Binary/System.

About Eric Brown

Eric Brown's first short story was published in Interzone in 1987, and he sold his first novel, Meridian Days, in 1992. He has won the British Science Fiction Award twice for his short stories and has published forty books: SF novels, collections, books for teenagers and younger children, and he writes a monthly SF review column for the Guardian.

He is married to the writer and medievalist Finn Sinclair and they have a daughter, Freya.


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